A tragic accident occurred in July, 2019 when Chloe Wiegand, an 18-month toddler from Granger, Indiana, fell from a window on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship after her grandfather unknowingly put her by an open window. She fell 150 feet and died, with the story making headlines across the nation. Now, six months after the tragic incident, the family is suing Royal Caribbean over the design of their windows and railings.
The lawsuit claims that the ship they were on, the Freedom of the Seas, was not compliant with industry standards or window fall prevention laws. To bolster their claim, the family have included photos of other, similar cruise ships — such as the Carnival Cruise and Norwegian — who are more aligned with industry standards.
Chloe’s mother, Kim Weigand, doesn’t want her daughter’s death to be in vain and hopes her this lawsuit will bring awareness to risks on cruise ships for small children. She instead wants her daughter’s name to be known for changing people’s lives, not for her tragic end, which they hope they can make a reality by forcing cruise ships to be safer for children.
In an official statement, Weigand also said that there was no reason for the cruise ship they were on to have walls of glass around the 11th floor, and for some of the windows to have partial openings. By filing the lawsuit, she said she hopes it sends a direct message to the cruise line that their safety measures were inadequate at best. She added that Royal Caribbean, not the child’s grandfather, was at fault for her daughter’s death.
“When the tragic death of a child occurs, the emotionally-charged nature of the incident can make it difficult to initially determine fault,” Attorney Larry Nussbaum of Nussbaum Law Group P.C. stated. “However, it is still crucial for each side to be investigated, and for the facts to be considered without bias.”
The man who was watching Chloe when she fell was Salvatore “Sam” Arnello, Chloe’s grandfather, who was given a misdemeanor criminal charge for her death in Puerto Rico (where the incident occurred). Arnello is colorblind, which some say could be the cause of his devastating mistake. Arnello said he dropped her when he lifted her up to bang on the glass wall, not realizing the glass wasn’t there. The family, however, has loudly supported Arnello, asking for the charges to be dropped.